CHERRY HILL, N.J -- When Soldiers are told they will deploy, the last thing they need is to get overwhelmed by everything they must do before leaving. For Army Reserve Soldiers of the 361st Military Police Company and 362nd Military Police Detachment, an opportunity to get ahead of potential problems came at a Yellow Ribbon event July 11-13.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was designed by the Department of Defense to provide service members and their loved ones with needed information, services and opportunities before, during and after deployment. The 99th Regional Support Command hosted and funded the event.
"The Yellow Ribbon event is a great way to inform and ease out some of the concerns service members or their loved ones have and notify them about benefits they are eligible for," said Capt. Marie Black, officer in charge of the Yellow Ribbon event for the 200th Military Police Command.
More than 10 local and national organizations came to the weekend event to offer information and assistance to those attending. These services ranged from educational resources and financial assistance to dealing with stress and anxiety during and after deployment.
The Yellow Ribbon was new to Spc. Brandon DeJesus, a military police officer from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Endryna Pollock, the mother of his son. He said his biggest concern was to make sure his family knows how to contact with him if an issue arises. They both said felt excited about coming to the event and meeting other families in similar situations.
"Once I understand what resources and programs are available for my son and his mother, I will be more at ease," said DeJesus, of the 361st MP Co.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a series of six events that provides assistance and support to reserve and National Guard service members and their families to plan ahead before, during and after deployment. Each event is broken down to address the stressors and challenges service members and families face during each phase of a deployment and facilitate their needs.
"The first two events of the six-event series are the most crucial ones, since they give them the opportunity to connect and build relationships with other service members and their loved ones who are experiencing similar emotions before the deployment, said Janell Coker, a representative of the Office of the Secretary of Defense who spoke at the event. "This is a great opportunity for first-time deploying Soldiers and their loved ones to bond with other service members who have been deployed before and ease them of what's ahead, " Coker said.
By building a strong foundation to prepare for upcoming hardships and stressors, service members and their families can become more resilient toward these factors, said Coker, who is a military spouse herself.
She also stressed the importance of family members attending additional Yellow Ribbon events while their loved ones are deployed. She encouraged Soldiers to attend the three post-demobilization events, which take place 30, 60 and 90 days after redeployment.
"I tell my Soldiers that a deployment is a marathon where one must train to be physically and mentally tough in order to carry out the mission effectively. That is why we go to these Yellow Ribbon events to become aware of the resources that are available to us," said Capt. John Smith, commander of the 361st MP Co. Smith said it is important to maintain a positive attitude among his Soldiers throughout the deployment.
Following the Yellow Ribbon predeployment event, families of deployed Soldiers will have opportunities to meet again and discuss any issues they face.
By attending this predeployment event, Soldiers and their loved ones will gain some knowledge and begin their deployment process with added resources, Coker said.
"I'm looking forward to learning about new resources and benefits I'm eligible for," said Spc. Eliana Carino, a Philadelphia native assigned to the 361st MP Co.
For more information or questions about the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, please contact the 200th MPCOM Yellow Ribbon Officer in Charge.